Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday

The Cardinals lost to David Wells and the Red Sox 4-0 Wednesday night.

After an almost three-hour rain delay, the St. Louis Cardinals lost the final game of the series to the World Champion Boston Red Sox at Busch Stadium Wednesday night by the score of 4-0. The Redbirds still won the series, two games to one. Their record is an NL-best 38-21.

Chris Carpenter took on lefty David Wells. Everything was fine for Carp until one out in the fifth, when he allowed six consecutive baserunners. Three of them scored. That was all the margin Wells needed.

The Cardinals' hitters took the night off, with just six hits – five singles and an Edmonds double that was catchable. So Taguchi had two of the safeties. Wells showed excellent control, walking no one in eight innings.

Eckstein streaking
Prior to going hitless in Wednesday's game, shortstop David Eckstein carried a ten-game hitting streak and had hit in 16 of 18 contests. After his 2-for-5 night Tuesday, he was hitting .315.

Odd synergy
With the win Tuesday night, the Cardinals' home and road records were an identical 19-10.

Team consistency
Before Wednesday's loss, the Redbirds had won 13 of their last 18 games and 21 of their last 29.

Mo dominance
How "on" was Matt Morris on Monday? He tossed his 17th career complete game for his seventh straight win. Morris retired 22 of the last 24 batters including 12 in a row at one point. While he only fanned one, his season average is 6.3 K's per nine, the second-best among the starters. Morris is unsigned for next season.

Quality staff = 34 quality starts
With his two-run, six inning performance Tuesday night, Jeff Suppan joined Morris, Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder with six quality starts this season. Chris Carpenter leads the team with ten outings of six innings or more, three or fewer runs allowed. However, before getting too excited, realize that Carpenter's Wednesday outing qualified as his 11th quality start. He'd be the first to tell you that only the first 5-1/3 innings were quality.

Myers whining unbecoming
Lefty reliever Mike Myers, traded to the Red Sox for a pair of minor-leaguers at the end of spring training, remains angry. Myers said the Cardinals traded him because they were concerned "how much you had left in the tank." Myers said he's bitter only because if he played in St. Louis he would have been closer to his family in Denver. "What are you going to do?" Myers said. "It's a funny game. That's why I'll never say I've seen it all or heard it all, because you're always going to see more." Give me a friggin' break. Go sign with the Rockies then.

Edgar rewarded
Edgar Renteria was presented with his 2004 National League Championship ring prior to Tuesday's game. Congratulations!

Edgar booed
When he was announced as the second hitter in the top of the first, Renteria was booed loudly by the Busch fans who remained after the three-hour delay. There were a few cheers, but they did not sound nearly as prevalent as the boos. I guess some are embarrassed about that, as if good fans cannot express displeasure. I have no issue with it.

Babe, the Cinderella Man?
This has nothing to do with the Cardinals. But, with the face of Russell Crowe all over television screens in commercials for his new movie, Cinderella Man, it got me thinking. Am I the only one who thinks Crowe bears a facial resemblance to The Babe? How about a remake of "The Babe Ruth Story"? William Bendix can be bested.

Wednesday's lineup
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Sanders, Edmonds, Seabol, Taguchi, Molina and Carpenter. Edmonds moved again, switching places with Sanders. Larry Walker sat in favor of So Taguchi and Scott Seabol got his first start of the series at third.

On to the game…

BoSox second - ‘Tek on base again
Jason Varitek became the first baserunner of the game as he singled a two-strike curveball for an opposite-field single with two out. He was stranded.

BoSox third – Trouble averted
Mark Bellhorn singled leading off. Molina made a bad decision and a bad throw to second on Wells' sacrifice attempt. The runners were both safe and Molina was charged with an error. Johnny Damon popped up to Seabol, who doubled the dozing Wells off first. More boos as Edgar stepped in.

Cards third - A baserunner, not
So Taguchi worked Wells hard before collecting a single, becoming the first Redbird baserunner of the night. But, he was quickly erased in a double play started by Molina.

BoSox fourth – Carp bears down
David Ortiz singled leading off. He was stranded there as Carpenter handled the #5, 6 and 7 hitters, including strikeouts of Millar and Varitek.

Cards fourth – Bad call for out #3
Grudz chopped the ball over Wells for a one-out single. He was also the third out as he was tagged out trying to take second. It was a very close play, as both he and La Russa complained. Replays showed he slid in under the tag, even though the ball was there.

BoSox fifth – K, K, K
Bill Mueller singled leading off. This is the third inning in a row that the Red Sox have had their first hitter on. Sooner or later, Carp is going to pay. But, not this inning, as he fanned out the side and has seven in the game so far.

Cards fifth – Finally, a RISP
Edmonds collected a one-out double on a ball that Kevin Millar got all turned around on in left field. But, neither Sanders nor So could do anything, though Mueller had to make a nice play to retire the latter.

BoSox sixth – Carp, Cards crumpled
David Ortiz parked a ball into the seats in right with one out. No doubt about that one. Millar and Nixon singled. Both scored on a Varitek double to the warning track in left center. Edmonds dived in a valiant attempt to catch the ball, but fell short. Nixon slid head-first past Molina, who had tried to block the plate. Carp walked Mueller and Bellhorn to load the bases. Six straight baserunners. Ray King is throwing in the pen. Carp fanned Wells and induced a Damon grounder to Albert. He didn't handle it totally cleanly and looped his toss to Carpenter coming over to cover the bag. Carp and Damon seemed to hit the bag simultaneously as they collided and tumbled to the turf. The first base ump waited until he saw that Carpenter had held onto the ball and tagged Damon before making the out call. The Sox protested as the tag was irrelevant. Red Sox 3-0.

Cards sixth – Schu's debut
With one out, Skip Schumaker made his MLB debut as a pinch-hitter for Carpenter. He fanned swinging in three pitches. It was the Cards' first K against Wells. Eckstein was hit by a pitch with two outs. Interesting, since Wells had shown superb control until then, having thrown 54 of 65 pitches for strikes. Eck was stranded.

BoSox seventh – Holding them
Brad Thompson walked Millar with two outs. He moved up on a passed ball charged to Molina. But, Brad fanned Nixon for the third out.

BoSox eighth – Sox can't extend lead
Seabol's fielding error let Varitek reach, but he was erased in a double play off the bat of Mueller. Bellhorn walked with two down, but he was left there.

Cards eighth – So again
So singled and broke for second, taking the base on a ground out by Molina

BoSox ninth – Edgar homers
Ray King took over for Thompson, who allowed no hits in two innings. He served up a home run to Edgar, who was 0-for-12 in the series prior to then. Red Sox 4-0.

Cards ninth – Foulke finishes again
Just as in the final inning of the World Series, closer Keith Foulke finished off the Cardinals' hitters. Albert and Sanders did scratch out a pair of singles, but that was it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday: Open Friday vs. Yankees: Jason Marquis vs. Chien-Ming Wang or Kevin Brown 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Yankees: Mark Mulder vs. Randy Johnson 2:05pm Big FOX
Sunday vs. Yankees: Matt Morris vs. Carl Pavano 1:15pm WB11
Monday @ Blue Jays: Jeff Suppan vs. Roy Halladay 6:07pm FSN Midwest
Tuesday @ Blue Jays: Chris Carpenter vs. Chad Gaudin 6:07pm FSN Midwest
Wednesday @ Blue Jays: Jason Marquis vs. Ted Lilly 6:07pm FSN Midwest

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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